Mike Philbin knows what it is like to lose family members to cancer. Mike’s paternal grandmother passed away from uterine cancer when she was 59 years old. Diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer at age 55, his father passed away from the disease two years later, when Mike was just 12 years old. His older brother was diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 53. Thankfully, proactive screening caught it at an early stage. Twenty years later, Mike’s brother is still thriving.
With his family history of prostate cancer, Mike started PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) screenings when he was 40; his third prostate biopsy at age 52 detected prostate cancer. With a Gleason score of 7 and his family history, treatment was warranted. An MRI indicated that the cancer was confined to his prostate. Due to his relatively young age, a prostatectomy without radiation was recommended. A Robot-Assisted Radical Prostatectomy and a Bilateral Pelvic Lymphadenectomy were performed at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). Pathology results (prostate, seminal vesicles, bladder neck, lymph nodes) confirmed that Mike’s cancer was confined to his prostate. His final staging came in at pT2b with a Gleason score of 7.
The next critical milestone after Mike’s surgery was his 2-month follow-up PSA test. Any result other than an undetected PSA level would indicate that prostate cancer was still in his body and might require further treatment(s). Fortunately, Mike’s PSA result was undetected (PSA < 0.05ng/mL). Eight years later, his PSA level continues to be undetected.
Mike thought that the only cancer-related issue that needed to concern him was a recurrence of his prostate cancer. That changed in 2020, six years after his initial diagnosis, when genetic testing revealed that he had an inherited pathogenic BRCA2 mutation and a BRCA2 Variant of Uncertain Significance (VUS). Due to his increased risk for male breast cancer, he has been in MSKCC’s Risk Assessment, Imaging, Surveillance, and Education (RISE) program for people at higher risk of breast cancer since 2020. With one mammogram behind him, he is scheduled for his second. He is also participating in the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania’s clinical trial to develop a screening method for pancreatic cancer FORCE | Screening for Pancreatic Cancer in Patients with an Inherited BRCA1, BRCA2, PALB2, or ATM Mutation (facingourrisk.org). Mike has completed his first endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) in the study. So far, his pancreas is sono-endoscopically unremarkable.
Mike became of volunteer with FORCE in 2021. He is currently a Peer Navigator and a Research Advocate. He regularly participates in the FORCE North Jersey virtual support meetings and the FORCE National Men’s virtual support meetings. Mike also is the FORCE representative on the Patient Advocacy Advisory Board for the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI).